By Drew Hansen
A gunman opened fire Monday at the Washington Navy Yard, killing at least 12 people, injuring others and shutting down the capital's airport, roads, schools and parts of its subway system and the U.S. Senate while a massive manhunt continued for other possible shooters.
One suspect in the Navy Yard shootings is dead, authorities confirmed. DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier had told reporters that a hunt is on for two other possible shooters wearing military style clothing. Later, one of them had been identified and cleared, and late Monday officials said they do not believe a second gunman was invlolved.
Authorities said Navy Yard employees do not have to report to work Tuesday.
Authorities identified the Navy Yard shooter as Aaron Alexis, 34, who grew up in Brooklyn with his mother Sarah and father Anthony Alexis, according to his aunt Helen Weeks, who spoke to The Washington Post.
“We haven’t seen him for years,” Weeks told the Post in a telephone interview. “I know he was in the military. He served abroad. I think he was doing some kind of computer work.”At about 4:30 p.m., DC Mayor Vincent Gray said the death toll had climbed to 13, including the shooter.
There was no known motive, the police chief said. The shooting was centered at the Navy Yard's Building 197.
One witness, U.S. Navy Cmdr. Tim Jirus, said he was talking to a man three feet away when shots rang out and the man fell to the ground, shot in the head.
"I may be calm now, but I guarantee when I was running, I wasn't looking back," he told reporters. "I was running for my life."
Alexis had been pinned down between two floors on a base building in a standoff with police, according to The Washington Post.
The Navy Yard is a large complex in Southeast Washington where about 3,000 civilians and military personnel report each day from homes in the District and large swaths of Virginia and Maryland.
President Obama, in remarks at the White House, said military members and civilians were targeted.
"They know the dangers of serving abroad," the president said, "but today they faced the unimaginable violence they wouldn't have expected at home."
The U.S. Navy confirmed the first shots were fired around 8:20 a.m. at the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters building. All personnel remain under a “shelter in place” order as the incident unfolds.
Area resident Ty Phillips called the shootings "strange" and "wild."
"A lot of people can't believe it around here," he told Patch. "It makes us not feel safe. Now people are going to probably be scared to go to work."
All morning and into lunchtime Monday, low-flying
helicopters fluttered above, the sound mixed with police sirens and the
spouting water at Canal Park. The choppers were flying low enough to read the
letters on their tails. K-9 units were rushing about and a sea of red and blue
lights flickered across the area.
One DC Metropolitan police officer and two civilians were taken to the Washington Hospital Center, and officials have been told to expect more.
"Their chances for survival are very good," Dr. Janis Orlowski, the hospital's chief operating officer and chief medical officer, said at a morning press conference.
- For information on family members call 202-433-6151. If you have any info on suspects or were a witness call202-727-9099.
A Metropolitan Police officer who was shot in the legs was in surgery now at about 4 p.m. and is expected to recover, Orlowski said in an afternoon briefing with reporters at the hospital.
A second victim, who suffered a shoulder wound, will be in surgery for a couple of hours, the doctor said. "She's in very good spirits. She was ordering the doctors and nurses around. I expect her to have a full recovery."
A third victim, who is also expected to recover, suffered injuries to her hand and head. The bullet did not penetrate the skull. The woman's parents are with her at the hospital.
The Navy Yard is well known to residents in the metro Washington area. It is an enclosed campus of mostly brick buildings located in the southeast quadrant of the district, just down the street from the Washington Nationals ballpark.
Staff reporting to the facility include engineers, secretaries, musicians with the Navy band, food service workers and many other employees.
The yard is a secure facility with no cameras or videos permitted in most buildings, including cell phones with camera capability. To enter the yard, pedestrians and vehicles and their owners must complete a security check with security staff.
The DC police said family members may reunite at Nationals Stadium Lot B, South Capitol and N St SE.
All flights were briefly held at Reagan National Airport by the Federal Aviation Administration as a result of the incident.
Police closed the 11th St Bridge as well as M St SE between 2nd and 4th streets SE due to the shooting, according to the paper. In addition, Metro Transit Police closed the New Jersey Avenue entrance at the Navy Yard station. The Half Street entrance remains open.
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- Navy Commander Witnesses Man Get Shot: 'I Was Running For My Life'